Canada's 2004 World Cup entry can expect a facelift
BY PIERRE LEBRUN
| (Canadian Press)|
It's time Wade Redden was given a chance with the national team.
A changing of the guard is in the works for Team Canada at September's World Cup of Hockey.
The defending Olympic champions should have several new faces when executive director Wayne Gretzky releases the roster in mid-May. Every country must also name three players under the age of 22 among its 26 players.
Here's a look at CP's selections for Canada's World Cup team, as things stand now, comparing them to the Salt Lake City roster of February 2002 (with current age):Goaltenders
Salt Lake: Martin Brodeur, 31 years old; Curtis Joseph, 36; Ed Belfour, 38.
World Cup: 1. Brodeur. He's the world's best netminder. Period.
2. Jose Theodore, 27. Habs star has regained his MVP form from two years ago and will challenge Brodeur for the Vezina Trophy this season.
3. Roberto Luongo, 24. Second among NHL starting goalies with .933 save percentage. His 37-save gem in last spring's final of the men's world championships looms large on his resume.Defence
Salt Lake: Adam Foote, 32; Ed Jovanovski, 27; Al MacInnis, 40; Rob Blake, 34; Scott Niedermayer, 30; Chris Pronger, 29; Eric Brewer, 24.
1. Foote. With a younger roster this time around, his wealth of international and NHL experience will be key. Physical defenceman will be even more effective on NHL-sized rinks at the World Cup.
2. Blake. Another key veteran of past Canadian teams.
3. Pronger. Having terrific bounce-back season after missing last year with serious wrist injury. Should be in the running for Norris Trophy. 4. Niedermayer. The silky-smooth skater plays his best when wearing Canadian colours. A must on the power play.
5. Wade Redden, 26. This guy is the full package, from power play to penalty kill to the transition game. Time to give the Ottawa Senators star his due.
6. Jovanovski. Vancouver Canuck hasn't played his best this year but remains in the mix. Excellent puck-mover and thrives in both offensive and defensive parts of the game.
7. Sheldon Souray, 27. Career season cannot be ignored at this point. The 6-4, 227-pounder is a physical force and has one of the league's heaviest shots.Forwards
Salt Lake: Theo Fleury, 35; Simon Gagne, 23; Jarome Iginla, 26; Eric Lindros, 30; Joe Nieuwendyk, 37; Michael Peca, 29; Brendan Shanahan, 34; Ryan Smyth, 27; Paul Kariya, 29; Mario Lemieux, 38; Owen Nolan, 31; Joe Sakic, 34; Steve Yzerman, 38.
| (Canadian Press)|
Todd Bertuzzi is expected to be a force up front for Canada.
World Cup: 1. Sakic. Don't be surprised to see veteran centre wear the 'C' if Lemieux isn't there. The Avs star is the top Canadian among NHL scoring leaders with 44 points.
2. Kariya. Automatic choice for every international competition.
3. Todd Bertuzzi, 28. Canucks power forward should have been in Salt Lake. First- or second-line duty at the World Cup.
4. Joe Thornton, 24. See Bertuzzi.
5. Iginla. Olympic winning goal-scorer from Salt Lake has become a more complete player under Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter.
6. Shane Doan, 27. Breakthrough year for power winger, who gives Team Canada much-needed size and skill on the right side. Keep in mind he plays under Gretzky's watchful eye in Phoenix.
7. Dany Heatley, 22. Canada's best player in Helsinki last spring will be fully recovered from tragic car crash by next summer and raring to go for Team Canada.
8. Alex Tanguay, 24. He's showing why he was an Olympic camp invite in September 2001 even though he didn't make the team.
9. Shanahan. Red Wings power forward showing he's not done yet, having another superb season. Will bring leadership to a younger forward group.
10. Brendan Morrison, 28. Top Canucks centre is a consistent point-producer and skilled penalty killer. A natural fit with regular linemate Bertuzzi.
11. Patrick Marleau, 24. San Jose Sharks centre living up to his potential this season. Another solid two-way player.
12. Kris Draper, 32. Career checker putting up big offensive numbers with Red Wings and was a key member of Canada's world champions in Helsinki.
13. Smyth. Gritty winger isn't having a great year but put him on a line with a top-notch centre and see him produce. Gold medallist at world championships and Olympics.
Note: Lemieux is on the team if he feels healthy enough after season-ending hip surgery.Under-22
1. Rick Nash, 19. What else can you say? 23 goals on a horrible Columbus team.
2. Jay Bouwmeester, 20. Panthers youngster was named top defenceman at the world championships last spring.
3. Jason Spezza, 20. Slowly developing into a more responsible defensive player under Sens coach Jacques Martin.